This is something I think about nearly every school day. I'm a guidance counselor in a public school, so I get the privilege and opportunity to recite the Pledge of Allegiance every school day throughout the year. However, like many things which are repeated over and over, the words of the pledge can lose their meaning to those who speak them frequently and automatically. I think many who recite the pledge do so somewhat robotically, able to frame the words without fully engaging their brains. (I'm certainly capable of doing so!)
I have found that virtually everyone who says the pledge adds a comma (,) where it doesn't belong. And this tiny little pause completely changes the meaning of the pledge. Think about the power of a comma to change meaning. Here are a couple of examples:
"We think we understand" versus "We think, we understand."
"We believe we can" versus "We believe, we can."
"God rest ye, merry gentlemen" versus "God rest ye merry, gentlemen." (You can check out the different meanings of these two phrases through Mannheim Steamroller, which has produced a different song for each meaning!)
I've found that most people say the pledge like this, with commas--or pauses--marked by *:
and to the republic * for which it stands * one nation * under God *
indivisible * with liberty * and justice for all.
I think it would be more accurate and meaningful if it were spoken like this:
|Jon McNaughton artist, click here to learn more about this painting.|
And to the republic for which it stands *
One nation under God *
With liberty and justice for all.
Most people pause after "One nation..." It is such a common and widespread practice that people who are around me when the pledge is said always notice that I recite this line as one phrase: One nation under God. That's how the phrase should be said. And that makes a huge difference.
If we are "under God", then we defer to Him. If we are "under God", we follow Him. And I believe that if we defer to God and follow Him; if we truly strive to be "under God" and subject our wills to His, then we will find that it is actually possible to be a nation indivisible, to be truly united and unified.